Log in

No account? Create an account

Public Etiquette

I was in the coffee shop yesterday talking tothecrimsonbat . It was fairly mundane matters like time management and our favorite hair stylist.
I was sitting at a table and he was at a booth about 5 feet away.

Then an old lady turned around and said "Sir, could  you please keep your voice down." I know that I have a loud voice and that I was talking to someone who was 5 feet away, but I didn't think I was that loud. I actually got a little irritated with her. I was tempted to come back with something like "There's no need for you to call me sir...you are older than me", but I was nice. Or at least I wasn't explicitly rude. And I complied. I went and sat at tcb's booth and spoke in a much softer voice.

Still,  I felt like she was cramping my style and I kept wishing she would leave. To her credit, on her way out she stopped and said thank you in a pleasant, nonsarcastic tone of voice, which I appreciated.

It makes me wonder about what the rules of etiquette in a crowded public place are. It seems like you should expect a certain amount of noise.
Sometimes I complain about people bothering me while I'm reading in the coffee shop and I'm told something similar.  But I don't think it's the same thing. I didn't go over to the old ladies table and insist on conversing with her.

It reminded me of something that happened in the faculty dining room a couple of years ago. it was near closing time, and the only people in there were a couple in their late 60's or early 70's. There had been a large crowd in there, and  as happens when lots and lots of people are in the same place and are conversing, it was noisy. They were complaining about it. The man turned to me and said "I don't see how  you can read in here!". I  shrugged and said "I just tune it out". I didn't even think about how noisy it was until they started complaining.

I am 51 now, and it won't be that long before I am as old as the lady in the coffee shop and the couple in the cafeteria. I hope I am not as noise-sensitive as they are when I reach their age. I am already cranky enough.